We’ve spent a couple of months testing an ensemble of winter clothing from venerable Italian brand, De Marchi.
Conditions have ranged from driving rain to positively mild, with only a few very cold days in between.
On the whole, we’ve been impressed by the kit, which is coordinated, highly functional, and proved resistant to occasionally foul conditions.
A couple of failures (more of which below) were disappointing, but there’s more here to celebrate than criticise.
For detailed descriptions of the fit, fabric, and features of each garment, read our ‘first look’. Here, we focus on how the garments peformed.
De Marchi Contour Plus 3L Soft Shell Stealth jacket
It’s an usual thing to say at the mid-point of a British winter, but it hasn’t been sufficiently cold to wear the warmest of the garments supplied for test. We’ve only been able to wear the Contour Plus 3L Soft Shell on more than a few occasions. When temperatures dipped to zero and a little below, it provided the necessary warmth, and in such conditions we wore it over the Contour Jersey (see below). The soft shell has a more generous cut than the jersey and wasn’t restrictive when worn over it.
Its windproof panels fulfilled their remit, and the fleece lining kept us cosy when we tried it directly over a base layer. On days warm enough to allow this configuration, however, we opted for the Contour Jersey, a lighter, less bulky garment.
We’re confident the soft shell will come into its own when temperatures plummet, usually around February. For now, we can only report complete satisfaction from the limited use we’ve made of it.
The Contour Plus 3L Soft Shell Stealth jacket costs £158.99, is available in black or red, and in seven sizes from X-small to XXX-Large.
De Marchi Contour Jersey
This long-sleeved, fleece-lined jersey rapidly became a ‘go to’ garment. Light, comfortable, and, thanks to its fleece lining, extremely warm, it was pulled from the wardrobe for use as an outer layer in all but the coldest conditions.
On several occasions, we used it with a gilet, which in temperatures of between five and 10 degrees was perfect. Once, however (and only once), we substituted the gilet for a lightweight rain jacket with sleeves. The combination of fleece lining in the Contour Jersey, and an absence of breathability in the rain jacket, quickly led us to overheat, and to stuff the jacket into the middle of the Contour’s three rear pockets.
The high collar warmed the neck, and the sleeves, which felt tight when pulling on the jersey, proved to be unrestrictive. Tthanks largely to the mudguards on the RCUK winter bike, the panels on their underside remained white. Some credit for the latter is due to the Contour Jersey’s washability: it’s had several trips through the washing machine, a consequence of the frequency with which it’s been worn, and remained pristine.
De Marchi Contour Plus Glove
The first of our disappointments. Both of the Contour Plus Gloves split in the seam at the inner edge, below the thumb. We believe this to be the result of the pressure placed on the stitching by the effort of pulling the deep, 3.5” cuff over the heel of the hand.
The tightness in the cuff contrasted with a slight roominess around the fingers, which was welcome and promoted good circulation.
A distinctive print on the palm gripped well, and the light gel pads, the thickest of which is placed below the little finger, absorbed pressure well.
The elasticated cuff is a feature of the collection and worked well elsewhere (as a gripper band on the short, for example), but we’d like to see it tweaked for future iterations of the glove, which was in all other regards excellent.
The Contour Plus gloves cost £53.99, are available in black or red, and in six sizes from X-small to XX-large.
De Marchi Contour skull cap
The skull cap performed well, and, like the soft shell jacket, is an item we’ll make the most of in freezing temperatures. On the chillier days of our test period, worn beneath a Kask Mojito helmet, and latterly with a Giro Atmos, both well vented, it was a welcome addition to the collection. It was soft against the ears, and tailored considerately at the brow, which meant visibility was never an issue; an unusual achievement for a garment available in only one size. It kept off the wind without overheating, too. A winner, we’d say, but at £27.99, at the upper end of the price bracket for such items.
Contour Plus Bib-Short
Our favourite piece from De Marchi’s Contour collection, the Roubaix-lined bib-short performed superbly in all weathers, keeping us toasty on the few occasions when we rode in very cold conditions, without overheating on milder days. The lining was a welcome addition in the wet, too, where it saved us from feeling chilled by the wet surface of the leg.
The insert was extremely comfortable, particularly beneath the sit bones where the padding was at its thickest, and the lycra straps (the way forwards, clothing people – no more polyester mesh, please!) offered just the right amount of ‘give’ – firm, without digging into the shoulders or pulling on the nether regions. They were lined, too, indicating an impressive attention to detail from De Marchi. The deep hem grippers worked well, and while the same design proved a fatal flaw to the Contour glove, here it was a welcome addition. Full marks.
The Contour Plus bib shorts cost £120, are available in black, or black with white panels, and in six sizes from small to XXX large.
De Marchi Contour Plus leg warmer
More praise, this time for the ‘second half’ of the leg wear section of the Contour collection. The lined-short, leg/knee warmer combination has become our preference for mild winter conditions, after years of wearing bibknicks. These leg warmers are full-length and offered a comfortable fit. The previously mentioned hem gripper, deployed here at the ankle, was excellent, and provided a very close seal. The leg warmer remained entirely free from bagginess: an achievement for a garment tested by a rider short in the leg. Its fleece lining was comfortable; noticeably so at the knee, although this may be a personal observation.
The Contour Plus leg warmers cost £49.99, are available in black only, and in four sizes from small to X-large.
De Marchi Contour Plus Ultra shoe cover
The second (and last) of our disappointments, the puny zip at the rear of the optimistically-named Ultra Plus shoe cover split at its first call to action, as did the stitching below it, and there ended the test; a poor result for a item priced at nearly £55.
The Contour Plus Ultra shoe covers cost £53.99, are available in black only, and in five sizes from small to XX-large.
De Marchi Contour Plus merino sock
Happily, De Marchi redeemed themselves in the footwear section of the Contour Plus collection with these excellent Merino socks, which were soft, warm, and provided a superb fit. Merino offers warmth without bulk, and these took up no more space in our shoes than a cotton summer sock.
Like the Contour Jersey, these socks have become ‘go to’ items, the highest recommendation we make. The consequence for socks of such frequent use, and so, washing, can be a tendency to ‘bobble’, but two months in, they have shown no inclination to do so.
The Contour Plus merino sock costs £11.99, is available in black only, and in three sizes: small, medium, and large.